Saturday, February 20, 2021

Special Lenten '21 City Notes | An Impossible Marriage: What is the Purpose & What Is God's Proposal for Our Good?


Our marriages feel impossible. But they aren't. Nothing is impossible with God. + Laurie + Matt Krieg, An Impossible Marriage

For this Special City Notes, I wanted to share a little from one of my Top 10 nonfiction books from 2020: An Impossible Marriage: What Our Mixed Orientation Marriage Has Taught Us About Love and the Gospel by Laurie and Matt Krieg. The Kriegs are members of Madison Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a church in the denomination that Emmaus City Church is also a part of. The raw vulnerability and real emotions integral to how they tell their story accents the compassionate tone and fierce love and wisdom they provide for anyone wondering what the purpose of marriage really is. They also speak to people who are single, people who disagree with them theologically when it comes to marriage, people who have experienced trauma, people in mixed-orientation marriages, and couples who want to understand more in ways that I hope pave a better way for all of us who seek to follow Jesus and reveal a glimpse of His faithfulness and sacrificial love through our marriages.

The "What is the Purpose of Marriage & What Is God's Proposal for Our Good?" excerpts below are adapted from the Prologue (worth the price of the book alone) of An Impossible Marriage.

An Impossible Marriage: What is the Purpose & What Is God's Proposal for Us?

All of us married people—if we are doing this thing right—are not trying to be like some imaginary perfect, super-straight human couple, but through the power of the Holy Spirit, are seeking to emulate the Church’s current and future marriage to Jesus Christ. 

Marriage is a metaphor of The Marriage with Christ. All impossible marriages are Gospel metaphors. All of them. When we married people love each other well, we serve as a metaphor to single people for how God wants to become one with them. When single people love Jesus well and have a beautiful relationship with the Church body, they serve as a metaphor to us for how we will all be in eternity.

... But I do wonder how much more hope impossible marriages like ours could have if they weren’t sitting at their tables silent and alone. If the many people in mixed-orientation marriages who reach out to my husband and I every day didn’t feel like they were 'extra impossibly married,' how much more hope could they have? ... " The default attractions of straight people are toward the gender they married, but (in the honest stories and quotes recounted in the prologue before this sentence) neither spouse always naturally desires a mind/body/spirit connection with their spouse. 

Is attraction really our issue? Is my lack of attraction toward men what makes our marriage impossible? 
It's not sexstraight couples have issues here, too. 
It's not lustit's hard to find a straight marriage unaffected by porn at some point. 
It's not theological quandariesall believers face these. 
Or is it that all of our default attractions are toward self, and selfishness is what makes all of our marriages impossible? "I want, I need, You give me" ... we say. 


What is the purpose of marriage? Let's back it up. What is the purpose of life?

As image bearers of a holy God, we are called to bear His image
serve as a visible picture of God
to the rest of the world (Genesis 1:26-28). We do this when we love each other, forgive each other, and work with one another in tandem with the Holy Spirit to bring restoration to a broken world (Matthew 6:10). God is one, and we look like Him when we are one with Him, one within ourselves, and with each other. Then, we invite others into oneness with God. 

When people look at us, they are supposed to get a sense of the One who made them too. As they see a representation of God and feel a hunger for Him, we are to declare Him as the One all of our souls crave. In our image bearing, we are to point to Jesus. We are called to make disciples in our living and in our verbal invitations. We are to tell fellow image bearers that there is a Rescuer for our restless souls (Matthew 28:19; Romans 10:14). 

So, if the purpose of being human is to point to God and, in so doing, point to Jesus as our Rescuer, what is the purpose of marriage? To point to God. The purpose of marriage, then, is to tangibly demonstrate God's marriage proposal to us to our spouse and to the world. 

People say our marriage is impossible. They are right. But so is yours. 

My natural default is toward disunity with Matt, and his default is disunity with me. 
Your natural default is toward disunity with your spouse. 
And yet God calls us married folk to love Him and to make disciples as one. 
Our marriages feel impossible. But they aren't. Nothing is impossible with God. 
My natural default is toward disunity with the Church as we press into The Marriage with Christ. 
Matt's natural default is toward disunity with the Church as we press into The Marriage with Christ. 
And yet God calls us to make disciples as oneto be unified (John 17:20-21). The Marriage feels impossible. But it isn't. Nothing is impossible with God. ...

Walking through our version of an impossible marriage has taught us something: We, the Church, often do not know how to wisely advise each other when it comes to marriage, period. We are not focused on serving as a metaphor of The Marriage between Christ and the Church. We are not focused on dying to our selves and pursuing oneness with our spouses in order to show the world a picture of how Jesus died for us and how we are to die daily to be one with Him. Instead, we're often focused on communication tactics, sexual gratification, and trying to "fall back in love" or "get the spark back" again. These platitudes aren't ultimately helpful for any marriage. We need something more than these airy things. ... We need to stare at The Marriage with Christ. ... 


This is simply our story of the impossible-made-possible because of Jesus. "(Jesus) is always to be found in the thickest part of the battle. When the wind blows cold He always takes the bleak side of the hill. The heaviest end of the cross lies ever on His shoulders. If He bids us carry a burden, He carries it also. If there is anything that is gracious, generous, kind, and tender, yea lavish and superabundant in love, you always find it in Him."
+ Laurie Krieg (& Charles Spurgeon)An Impossible Marriage, pgs. 9, 11

P.S. Laurie and Matt Krieg's favorite marriage books in general are Preston Sprinkle's People to Be Loved, Tim and Kathy Keller's The Meaning of Marriage, Christopher West's Theology of the Body for Beginners, and Francis and Lisa Chan's You and Me Forever; they also recommend the Center for Faith, Sexuality & Gender's pastoral paper, "15 Reasons for the Affirming View and 15 Responses" to be helpful.

Bonus: Here is a recent song to complement the content above:

Maverick City Music + UPPERROOM, 2020 A.D.

What an honor to be invited to the marriage of the Lamb, 
To come and worship Him.
Celebration, it’s the joining of the Bride and the Son,
The two becoming one.

All the prophecies fulfilled in a moment, so we sing ...

Like the roar of many waters, 
Like the sound of rolling thunder, 
Hallelujah, give Him glory 
For the marriage of the Lamb is coming!
We’re getting ready, we're getting ready ...

Filled with wonder, 
As we behold the man with fire in His eyes, 
The very Word of God.
You are worthy, every kingdom, every nation bowing down, 
We’ll crown You with many crowns.

Every creed and tribe and tongue declaring 
In unity ... (Chorus)

We're getting ready for You!

We’ll shout ‘til the whole world hears it,
We’ll sing ‘til the whole world knows,
"King Jesus, He is Faithful! 
He is the blessed hope!"

Here are links to previous City Notes books:

Christ is all,

Rev. Mike "Sully" Sullivan

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